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Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Texas Sues Pfizer, Saying Drug Maker Marketed Three Drugs Deceptively

Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Texas Sues Pfizer, Saying Drug Maker Marketed Three Drugs Deceptively[The Dallas Morning News]

From Dallas Morning News (TX) (June 11, 2010)

Jun. 11--Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, the state’s largest health insurer, said Thursday that it filed a lawsuit against pharmaceutical maker Pfizer Inc. for deceptive marketing of three drugs and illegal kickbacks to health care providers to push those drugs.

Under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, a company must specify the intended uses of a product in its application to market a drug. Once approved, the drug may not be marketed for purposes not specified in the application.

But the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, says the New York City-based drug maker and its subsidiary, Pharmacia & Upjohn Inc., promoted the sale of Bextra, an anti-inflammatory drug, for several uses and dosages that the government specifically declined to approve because of safety concerns.

Pfizer also is accused of illegally promoting two other drugs -- Geodon, an antipsychotic, and Lyrica, an anti-epileptic drug.

Blue Cross is demanding a jury trial in which it hopes to recoup money it has lost along, with other cash rewards, including at least three months of Pfizer’s advertising budget. The insurer did not specify an amount and declined to comment on the pending litigation.

"This is a case of an insurance company seeking its money back for medicines that physicians prescribed appropriately using their best medical judgments," Pfizer spokesman Chris Loder said in a prepared statement. "Pfizer denies the allegations brought by the insurer in this case."

But Pfizer already settled a similar case with the federal government and more than 40 states.

In September, Pfizer and its subsidiary agreed to pay $2.3 billion, the largest health care fraud settlement in the history of the Justice Department, to resolve similar allegations. The settlement also addressed complaints that Pfizer paid kickbacks to health care providers to prescribe certain drugs.

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Posted: June 2010